Banks, JA, United Ways Teach Financial Literacy

In its 2019 national survey, the National Federation for Credit Counseling found that 42% of Americans keep a close eye on their spending. Meanwhile, 27% reported they’re “not at all confident” they’re saving enough for retirement.

The work needed to improve those numbers starts early. Area banks take part in Junior Achievement programs in schools and some offer accounts to kids that include an education aspect.

717 Credit Union’s Dollar Dog Kids Club, for example, allows kids up to the age of 12 to open a savings account with an initial deposit of $5.

“If they have access to education, it makes it more fun and interesting for them to stop into the credit union with their parents and make deposits,” says Eric Lanham, vice president of marketing for 717 Credit Union.

In the early 2000s, Georgia, Idaho and Texas required all high school students to take financial education courses. A 2015 study for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority found that three years after the program was implemented, each state saw the average credit score of 18- to 22-year-olds increase 10.89 points in Georgia, 16.19 points in Idaho and 31.71 points in Texas.

Partnering with groups such as JA and local United Way chapters help further that kind of financial education beyond the classroom, even reaching adults.

Through the United Way of Mercer County, Mercer County Community Federal Credit Union offers lessons aimed at adults that are certified by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and National Credit Union Association.

“We saw through working with kids that parents were coming into the credit union and they didn’t have a financial literacy background, just because it’s not something that’s picked up when they [parents] were in school,” says CEO Sandy Carnagi.